Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Creating a Living Classroom Museum with Biographies

This is a guest blog post by teacher blogger Charity Preston. If you like what you read here, check back for more of her guest blog posts, or visit her over on The Organized Classroom Blog!

What is more fun than hands-on learning? While subjects such as science and math allow for manipulatives or experiments to easily demonstrate the learning objectives, other subjects such as social studies are much harder. When you think of social studies or history, most tend to envision reading out loud from a textbook and hearing about people who are no longer living. Bringing to life the great individuals who have come before us is a wonderful way for students to be able to see, touch, and feel important historical figures today by creating a Living Classroom Museum.

Start by allowing each child to pick a historical figure and read a biography about that person. Then, ask students to dig a little deeper. What was the clothing like that his or her figure wore? How about hairstyles? Mannerisms? Speech patterns? Each student can become the person in the book.

Set up a “gallery” time at your school for another classroom, or for parents in the evening. Make sure all spectators know that the “displays” in the museum are not to be touched. As the guests enter the classroom, the students are spread out and each has a little pretend “activate” button. When a guest touches the button, the display comes to life. Students will take on the full role of their chosen historical figure—including costume, hair, and speech. Each actor can recite 3–5 facts about his or her life and then take a couple questions from the museum visitors before standing still again while waiting for the next person to come along and push the activate button.

This would be a wonderful parents’ night event—and one the students are sure to remember. Having at least two classes complete this project allows them to practice for each other the day before the evening event, and allows the students to be able to visit another room and get to learn about many historical figures, all while allowing the children to really bring history out of the textbooks and into the real world. In the end, that really is the best part of learning!

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Charity Preston, MA, is the editor and creator of several websites, including The Organized Classroom Blog, Classroom Freebies, and Teaching Blog Central, among others. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University, OH and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University, FL, as well as a gifted endorsement from Ohio University. She taught third grade in Lee County, FL for several years before relocating back to her hometown as a gifted intervention specialist. You can see all her projects at www.PENGroupOnline.com.

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For more information on the Hameray Biography Series, click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights and key features.

 Biography Series Highlights